By Saadia Muzaffar
A number of Canadian start up businesses are choosing to expand overseas and create niches for themselves in foreign markets. The Canadian company Jigsee Inc., for example, opened a branch all the way in India to promote a video streaming technology. What was the reason for this move? Jigsee’s technology allowed for streaming over unstable networks, which was a major issue in India, but not so much in Canada.
Maintaining headquarters on Canadian soil
Companies like Jigsee that try to create a presence abroad while staying in Canada, are what Benson Honig of McMaster University calls, “transnational enterprises.” Having a profitable business on home soil just simply doesn’t help pay all of the bills. Many companies, such as Toronto’s Polar Mobile, rely extensively on international markets in order to generate a significant amount of revenue.
So if companies are not making much money on home soil, why are so many start ups choosing to stay? Clearly there is something very appealing about Canada, and it’s not just our love for hockey. While Canada might not be the most profitable place to grow in, it is certainly great for developing businesses. With a government that heavily promotes R&D through tax incentives and a vast pool of investment resources, it’s the ideal country to settle in for entrepreneurs who are trying to pitch their innovative ideas.
Using Canada’s multicultural workforce
Although overseas expansion might seem like a successful endeavour, it can quickly become a nightmare for many businesses. If local customers fail to accept and welcome new products or services, companies can find themselves regretting the decision to broaden their markets. This issue is especially a concern for small businesses who are still in their start up stage and haven’t yet completely managed to stand up on their own two feet.
But if research suggests that markets for a product exist overseas, entrepreneurs should not be afraid of exploring them. Failure can be avoided if companies focus on developing excellent ties with their foreign customers. This is where Canadian businesses have a leg up in the game. The diverse population of our country provides entrepreneurs with access to a variety of cultures and people. The cultural capital of our immigrant population can be effectively utilized towards understanding the customs and conventions of other countries. Not only can this help a start up develop stable grounds in foreign markets, but it can also create valuable jobs for new immigrants in Canada.
Despite the difficulties that start ups face in generating revenue in Canada, it seems like the possibilities for investment and development have resulted in companies wanting to stay. Canada’s multicultural population has provided excellent opportunities for businesses to leverage the skills of foreign trained professionals in connecting with their customers overseas.
Saadia joins the RIC team as the Operations Coordinator responsible for building and execution of activities that fulfill RIC’s mandate. She brings several years of relationship management, corporate communications and operations experience mainly from the financial services industry.